Tang dynasty horse sculpture, ca. 700 (Shanghai Museum, Beijing)
With a dynamic and far-reaching history that spans the Neolithic period to the modern age, Chinese civilization has given rise to some of the world’s most remarkable artistic creations. Robert DeCaroli, professor in the department of history and art history at George Mason University, explores that complex legacy by examining how shifts in China’s social, religious, and political life have influenced transformations in its material culture.
January 5 Origins of Chinese Culture
Explore the beginnings of Chinese civilization through the ceramics, bronzes, jades, and other artifacts revealed through archaeological digs. Spanning the Neolithic era to the Zhou dynasty, examine the objects and ideas that characterize China’s earliest periods.
January 12 Foundations of the Chinese Imperial System
From China’s first emperor in the Qin, to the birth of the Confucian state in the Han, and the arrival of Buddhism in the Northern Wei, explore the spectacular art and architecture of China’s early and occasionally fractious dynasties. What political philosophies and religious ideas most inspired the works?
January 19 China and the Outside World
Trade and expansion during the Tang dynasty brought new wealth, new customs, and new ideas. After centuries of Han Chinese dynasties, two non-Han dynasties emerged—the Jin Dynasty (ethnically Jurchen) and the Yuan Dynasty (ethnically Mongol). Their eventual rise moved China further into contact with the wider world. Export goods such as porcelain and silk continued to be produced, as indigenous painting traditions among the literati and court artists flourished.
January 26 From the Forbidden City to a People’s Republic
As the Ming dynasty closed its northern borders with the Great Wall and China explored the seas, the arts of the court continued to change and evolve. The decline of the Qing dynasty in the face of mounting foreign aggression paved the way for the end of the imperial system and the rise of the People’s Republic—and entirely new forms of state- sponsored art.
World Art History Certificate core course: Earn 1 credit*
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